Kids around the country are counting down to the spring school holidays, and now is the time to plan your clan’s getaway. If you’re heading for Perth, Adelaide, Hobart or Canberra, here are some ideas for top things to do, to suit every budget.
If you’re making a break for Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane or Darwin, read Part 1 of our spring school holiday activities guide here.
Need a place to stay? Choice Hotels has fabulous, affordable and family-friendly accommodation options in each of these cities. Many properties offer family rooms or suites, or interconnecting room configurations.
1. Dig into some serious fun at the Perth Royal Show (fee applies)
Held at Claremont Showground, the Perth Royal Show takes place each year during the September/October school holidays and it’s much more than just rides and showbags (as fun as they are!). Racing pigs, an animal nursery, a paddock-to-plate-themed kids’ kitchen, and a ‘Discover Dirt Pavilion’ (yes, you read that right) are all opportunities for children to learn more about life on the land – which is really what the show is all about.
2. Be awesome at the AWESOME Festival (mix of free and ticketed events)
Technically known as the ‘AWESOME International Arts Festival for Bright Young Things’, Perth’s AWESOME Festival happens in early October. The program is packed with theatre, music, dance, and early-childhood-friendly activities. It’s well worth planning your Perth visit around this event. Check the website for a complete rundown of what’s on.
3. Explore one of the world’s biggest inner-city parks (free)
Kings Park is a must-visit with the kids at any time of the year. From the fabulous 620-metre Federation Walkway through the treetops, to the inspiring Naturescape kids’ activity centre, plan to spend a full day of your stay in Perth exploring what is one of the largest city parks in the world. Naturescape incorporates a fabulous range of activities, including a waterhole to wade in and opportunities to climb, burrow and build – all great ways to burn off that extra school holiday energy. The Kings Park Festival takes place in September and celebrates the region’s stunning wildflowers.
1. Make a masterpiece at the Art Gallery of South Australia (free)
If you’re travelling to Adelaide these school holidays, chances are you’ll want to tick off the fabulous Art Gallery of South Australia. While you’re checking out the grown-up art, the kids can get super creative in The Studio – a hands-on activity space that operates all year round. Everything needed to bring out your child’s inner-Picasso is provided.
If your visit happens to coincide with the first Sunday of the month, Start is a day of discovery at the gallery that’s designed to appeal to the entire family. It’s usually themed around the gallery’s current programme and includes tours, live performances and entertainment.
2. Take a ZOOcation at Adelaide Zoo (fee applies)
Adelaide Zoo’s popular ‘ZOOcation’ school holiday program offers kids the opportunity to mix and mingle with the furry and feathered residents and learn about animal conservation as part of the deal. Designed for 5 to 12-year-olds, the daily ZOOcation programme includes a range of activities, games and animal presentations. It’s always popular and numbers are limited, so don’t be a chimp and hang about on this one. Book now!
3. Cruise and paddle the Torrens (fee applies)
Adelaide Zoo is located right by the River Torrens – home to another fav school holiday activity – the heritage Popeye cruise boats. Departing from Elder Park Jetty, you can actually use Popeye to get to and from the zoo, and tickets are ridiculously well-priced. If you plan to make a day of it on the Torrens itself, do the return cruise on Popeye; then rent a paddle boat and explore more of the river under your own steam. The parklands on either side of the tranquil waterway are ideal for a lunchtime picnic. Also check the Dragon Boat SA website for tournaments happening on the river during your stay. Your children will love the colour and spectacle.
1. Enjoy a day of discovery at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (free)
The excellent Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) is located in the heart of Hobart and a visit here is an awesome opportunity for kids to connect with the island’s natural heritage. They’ll love the Zoology Unit, which is packed with specimens under glass, including bugs, butterflies, bones and the like. The museum’s permanent exhibition The Thylacine: Skinned, Stuffed, Pickled and Persecuted tells the thought-provoking tale of the demise of the Tasmanian tiger. If your visit coincides with one of the museum’s excellent Discovery Days, you’ll enjoy a range of interactive activities tailored to all age groups. Check the museum’s website for dates and details.
2. Take a walk on Mount Wellington/kunanyi (free)
Rising almost 1,300 metres above Hobart, Mount Wellington/kunanyi is the ultimate outdoor adventure playground and one that offers plenty of activities that will enthral the kids. There are walks that will suit different age groups and abilities and a visit to the pinnacle is a must for the awesome views. The key to enjoying a day in Mount Wellington Park is preparation. There are lots of resources available for choosing a walk that won’t overpower you or the kids. Remember that conditions on the mountain can change rapidly, so be prepared and always let someone know where you’re going.
3. Go wild at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary (fee applies)
Located just 30 minutes’ drive north of Hobart, Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary offers a great family day out in the company of a menagerie of native Aussie critters, including kangaroos, koalas, emus, wallabies, wombats and several feisty Tassie devils. Bonorong operates a 24-hour wildlife rescue service across Tasmania and entry proceeds play a big part in funding that vital work. Orphaned youngsters are brought to the park to be cared for, then released where possible. There are wildlife presentations by keepers throughout the day.
1. Do a family tour of the Australian War Memorial (free)
A visit to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra is likely to inspire plenty of discussion and debate amongst school-aged children, and the great thing about visiting the memorial during school holidays is that trained education staff are on hand. They offer an excellent 30-minute interactive tour that is designed specifically for families with children. See key artefacts and hear the stories behind them. The tour runs daily at 10.15am.
2. Be a champion at the Australian Institute of Sport (fee applies)
The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) trains the nation’s sporting champions and the potential champs of tomorrow will love the Institute’s school holiday programme. There’s an emphasis on fun, working as a team and picking up new skills. Choose a general programme or one themed around a specific sport.
About the writers
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has previously had the opportunity to travel the world as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten.
Emma Castle has been writing about travel, in one way or another, for over 15 years. After the birth of her son, she moved into a freelance role and now contributes to various publications. She is also baby and toddler editor at Holidays with Kids magazine and blogs at SheGoes.
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